Bengaluru: In the backdrop of a 21-day nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus spread, the Karnataka government has decided to bail out farmers and growers suffering losses due to steep fall in demand and transport bottlenecks, an official said on Wednesday.
"To reduce losses of farmers and growers of vegetables and fruits due to drastic fall in demand, the government has decided to increase sale of foodgrains through ration shops and vegetables and fruits through kiosks run by horticulture producers associations," the official told IANS.
At a high-level meeting held to review the situation, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa directed the police to ensure smooth passage of essential goods and supply of fruits, vegetables and milk in the state and to neighbouring states, as there was no bar on their transportation.
"As fruits, vegetables and fruits are more perishable with the advent of summer, police and checkpost officials have been told to allow their free movement within the state and to other states," the official said.
Alarmed over reports that some producers in the state's northern region were dumping hundreds of litres of milk into canals as they were unable to transport them due to shortage of vehicles, the government has decided to buy the surplus milk from them and distribute it to slum dwellers in cities and towns.
"The producers can sell the excess milk to the state-run Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) for distributing it to the people living in slum areas through urban local bodies," said the official.
With the 3-week lockdown till April 14 disrupting normal life and crippling the supply chain from farm to markets, hundreds of growers have been dumping vegetables like tomatoes and beans and seasonal fruits like grapes and melons, as agents and middlemen were not lifting enough stocks due to shortage of labour and transport vehicles.
"We are exploring alternative ways to process tomatoes, grapes and other perishable vegetables and fruits by processing units so that growers can sell them," the official said, citing the Chief Minister.
The state government has also urged the railways to ply special wagons to transport perishable goods to cities and towns enroute and other states to minimise the loss to growers and farmers.
Strict enforcement of lockdown and physical distancing have also discouraged the people from visiting wholesale markets.
"With hotels, restaurants, eateries and hostels shut and marriages and public functions cancelled, regular demand for vegetables, fruits, flowers, milk and dairy products has plummeted," admitted the official.
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